7 Life-changing Benefits Of Outdoor Experiential Learning, According T...

7 Life-changing Benefits Of Outdoor Experiential Learning, According To Educators

Category Experiential Learning

By Janusa Sangma

2024-02-23

How do we rethink education in a high-octane, unpredictable world? A world where talent isn’t a prerequisite for success and “jobs” don’t look like how they used to. Where despite being connected 24x7, we’ve grown more disconnected from ourselves, our families, our communities, and our planet.

Innovation is the need of the hour. Yet, most education systems the world over remain largely rigid. 

To kickstart these crucial discussions in education circles, Indiahikes organised a one-of-a-kind panel discussion on February 8, 2024 around a theme close to our hearts – Outdoor Experiential Learning for children.

Our panel comprised leading educators, outdoor facilitators, and advocates of Experiential Learning (EL). Many of them have successfully integrated “learning by doing” into school curriculum over the years.

We asked some of our panellists if they saw changes in children after a prolonged period of outdoor learning? What short or long-term benefits (if any) did they observe in students?

Here are some of the incredible things they shared.

1. Children learn to value care and compassion over competition

Renu Dimri - Principal, DPS Bangalore (West) and Shantanu Das - Principal, Sarla Birla Academy, Bangalore

“Children nowadays are so preoccupied that they don’t even look at the person sitting next to them. The outdoors give them time to look around, to talk to their friends, and help each other. It’s one of the few spaces where they don’t have to compete with each other. I’ve noticed this care across age groups, from the younger ones to Grade 12.” - Renu Dimri, Principal, DPS Bangalore West (Bangalore)

2. Prevents bullying and transforms classroom dynamics

Shantanu Das - Principal, Sarla Birla Academy, Bangalore

“I’ve seen definite, long-term and very gratifying changes in children after being outdoors. As an educator, I work in boarding schools where bullying and ragging exist in many forms.  We see children who direct all their energies towards bullying because they believe that’s what “strength” looks like. After being outdoors for a prolonged period of time, I have seen them mellow down and rethink what strength actually means. True strength is about helping friends and younger schoolmates.” – Shantanu Das – Principal, Sarla Birla Academy, Bangalore.

3. Valuing interdependence over hyper independence

“On a trek, you realise you can’t survive on your own. There will be moments when you need support, even if you don’t want it. Children begin understanding that it’s good to ask for help. They don’t need to fight their battles alone.” - Renu Dimri

4. A deep understanding of emotions, relationships, and human beings 

Kavya Chandrashekhar - Founder and Montessori Guide, The Montessori School and Kriyasthala (Bangalore)

“One of the biggest things we see when children are outdoors is how they develop deep relationships. Relationships that were a bit hostile inside the classroom transformed if children received help and support outdoors. If relationships are great inside but become frayed outside, children begin to understand that you can view people differently. Sometimes people are helpful, other times they’re not. All emotions are acceptable in a human being. When children view people differently, they go beyond superficial understanding of human beings.” –

Kavya Chandrashekhar - Founder and Montessori Guide, The Montessori School and Kriyasthala (Bangalore)

5. The best place to learn life skills? The real world

“Schools have specific sessions and periods for Life Skills and Value education. We actually don’t need it. Take children outdoors instead – even if it’s just once a week – and life skills learning happens on its own. Children learn what they want to (and more) at their own pace. When children feel learning is in their own hands and not controlled by teachers, it makes a huge difference. They come back much more engaged. Learning imbibed through first-hand experience remains with you forever.” - Renu Dimri

6. Children’s logical, thinking, and analytical skills improve

“At TMS and Kriyasthala, we encourage children to pack their own bags for a trek. We recommend what they should pack but never tell them what to do, even for their first trek. After a few treks, children arrive at what they need and don’t need. They begin reasoning things out because of their lived experiences, not because of what their parents or teachers told them to do. They see it’s alright to pack 2 trek pants instead of 6 pants for 6 days. It’s a rewarding journey to see how beautifully their learning progresses over time.” – Kavya Chandrashekhar

7. Children come back more confident

“A classroom provides only one type of atmosphere where the academically inclined tend to thrive. Children who are quiet in class often get overlooked. The same children come back more confident after trekking. The trek perhaps gave them opportunities to achieve something significant, such as helping others.” - Renu Dimri

The “learning” in Outdoor Experiential Learning goes beyond grades and examinations to the larger purpose of education. Does it make us good human beings who make better choices? The engaging forum reiterated the need to rethink how we teach and help children learn.

Janusa Sangma

Content Writer

About the author

Janusa is most at home exploring a faraway mountain trail. She follows the music wherever it may lead, guided by her ever-constant anchors – a love for writing, the mountains, wildlife, and grassroots work in the social sector.

She enjoys writing for organisations and individuals creating meaningful impact.

Before taking up writing as a full-time profession, she worked with corporates, non-profits, social enterprises, education companies, and PR organisations.

When she's not bent over a computer or buried in a Word Document, you will find her befriending a dog (any dog), swimming, or running for the hills.

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